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Wednesday, October 6, 2010


Before I started writing romance, I had planned to become an author of suspense novels. Unfortunately, none of them sold. However, I did learn valuable techniques for pacing and doling out just enough information to keep a reader interested until they reached The Big Reveal.

In writing contemporary erotic romance, I hadn't had much chance to use suspense techniques in my work until my latest release In His Arms.

Given the intricacies of the plot, I had to tread very carefully in certain areas so as not to give away the main elements of the story. From comments I've read, I succeeded in maintaining many surprises.

And that brings me to spoilers in reviews or on loops, the subject of this post.

Let me begin by saying that I truly appreciate the efforts of reviewers. I know they're extremely busy. They read tons of books, write insightful reviews (for free), and manage their daily lives, with most of them (I suspect) having an EDJ/husband/children in the mix.

More than once, a reviewers' kind words for my books have brought me to tears. I'd like to take this post to thank them all.

And now, I'd like to ask readers, authors and reviewers too, if spoilers in a review bothers them.

A few weeks ago I had an instance where a wonderful reviewer revealed a part of the plot for In His Arms that I'd worked very hard to keep under wraps until near the end of the book. As soon as I read the review, I emailed the individual asking if the spoiler could be taken out. The reviewer couldn't have been more gracious. The sentence was removed immediately.

Had it stayed, I wonder if it would have ruined the experience for a reader. It brings to mind that old movie Psycho. Knowing Janet Leigh is going to get it in the shower is revealing a spoiler; however, learning that Tony Perkin's hacked her up and is pretending to be his mother gives away everything.

Would you still see the movie if you knew The Big Reveal? Would it bother you? Would it ruin the experience?

Asking myself that same question, I can truthfully say I like to be as surprised as I can be, to approach the work (book or film) without any notion of the major plot points. Just give me a summary, thank you very much.

So what do you all say? Is that the way you are? Or do you like to know the spoilers before you begin reading or viewing?


Paris said...

Tina, I think you handled the situation very well and I'm glad the reviewer was so gracious. I loved that book, both as a reader and an author and would have hated to see it spoiled for anyone else.

Tina Donahue said...

Thanks, Paris. I know when I read a book with 'twists and turns' I want the full experience. :)

Katalina Leon said...

I'm sure that review was a innocent learning experience for the reviewer. A reviewer of suspense would never have given away the spoiler.
The romance genre is so driven by the chemistry of the H& H characters that I think others sometimes forget how hard authors work to plot and provide surprises in a genre where plot twists are secondary.
(By this I mean a well plotted romance won't work if the romantic chemistry between the H&H doesn't mesh.)
Congratulations on the many great reviews and reader feedback you've received for "In His Arms"

Tina Donahue said...

Thanks, Kat!!

The reviewer was soooo nice.

Tiffany Green said...

Hey Tina, I'm like you--I want to find out for myself. I never read the back page before I get there. Never. I want to go through the journey to get there. If a reviewer spilled the beans, I'd be upset. It's great you were able to get the reviewer to revise her review. Best of luck with IN HIS ARMS. I'm looking forward to reading it.

Sarah J. McNeal said...

Leaking out a spoiler would ruin a story for me. Although the story itself, the unfolding of love between characters is not going to be spoiled, the energy of the story can be taken from it with too much advance knowledge. I don't want to read a Sherlock Holmes mystery if I already know the butler did it. I want to test my own skills and see if I can figure it out as I go. Shoot, that's half the fun.
But that's just me as a reader.
As a writer, it would be difficult to keep my cool with a reviewer who just told the essence and surprise of my story--good review or no. Writers want readers to buy their books to get the answers to the mystery and see if the happily ever after takes place. A spoiler could cost the writer in sales. When there's money involved, people tend to get upset and I don't blame them.
If I were a reviewer who let out a spoiler, I would have to stick my head in the shame bucket.
Great topic, Tina.

Tina Donahue said...

Hey, Tiffany and Sarah. What both of you have said is so true.

I remember seeing "The Sixth Sense". Even though I'd guessed The Big Reveal half-way through, I didn't want my friends (who'd seen it before I did) to tell me what it was.

Half the fun of reading a book or viewing a film is anticipation. If you know what's going to happen, it takes all the zip out of the story for you.

Linda Mooney said...

I'm one of those who like the fact that, if the Big Reveal is going to be posted, that it's kept under wraps by a warning, and leaves it up to the reader to decide if she wants to read a crucial plot point. Give me the option!

Great post, Tina!

Fiona said...

I agree with you about not wanting plot points given away to spoil a reader's experience. I'm glad the reviewer saw it your way. Some will warn the reader, saying "Spoiler alert", especially with movie reviews, so you know not to continue reading if you want to be surprised.

Tina Donahue said...

Hey, Linda and Fiona - I'm with you, ladies - if there are spoilers, an 'alert' is the appropriate way to go. That way a reader can decide to do what they want.

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